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Laptop Flightcase

Ready to begin with the necessary parts

The Evercool Notebook Cooler will serve as a base for the laptop

First modification: Although inexpensive, the cooler was poorly designed to suck hot air down into the base. In order to improve its efficiency, the fans will have to be flipped to blow the hot air up

Four 60mm fans are screwed into the base. They all connect to a common power board

The fans had to be removed and inverted. Excess plastic is trimmed, and double-sided tape is used to affix them in place

Second modification: White bed foam is used for padding once the pockets are removed from the case. It is cut to shape with scissors

The notebook cooler is placed at the base of the case. Foam padding is cut to surround it

Third modification: The part layout for the cathode instillation. A standard 12" CCFL light kit will be modified to operate on USB power

Since the cathode inverter is designed to run on 12v DC, a 5v DC inverter had to be purchased. Mouser offers a 5v CCFL inverter (BXA-502, on right) that draws <300mA of current. Its 650v AC operating voltage is sufficient to drive the cathode tube, and its small size is welcomed

A slit is cut in the foam padding to accommodate the cathode tube

The USB plug is stripped at the end, and the shielding is pealed back. The cable consists of two DATA wires, a +5v wire (red), and ground wire (black). The +5v and ground wires can deliver up to 500mA of current to a 5v device. They are hooked up to the inverter

The cathode, inverter, and USB cable are wired. The cathode lights up as expected

The cathode and USB cable are set in place, and the foam is secured using hot glue

The system with the laptop in place. Everything functions, however the inverter only has the strength to drive ~2/3 of the cathode lamp

The system with the lights off

The blue cathode emits a nice glow around the laptop when the lid is raised. However, it does little to help illuminate the keyboard in low-light conditions

In order to have a completely lit cathode, I had to replace it with a smaller one. To do that, I swapped the 12" tube for a 4" one. I also relocated it to the top of the case to better illuminate the keyboard

A close-up of the 4" cathode. I was able to install it closer to the bezel than the first attempt with the 12" light

The cathode lit with the lights on. It is even brighter than the first tube despite being shorter

The cathode with the lights off. The keyboard is fully illuminated

Since I would be using the flightcase primarily for deejaying, I decided to get it decaled with the brand logos I use. The black vinyls were machine-cut and conform nicely to the dimples on the aluminum

The completed flightcase, both functional and fashionable


Aluminum briefcase $40.00
White bed foam $9.00
Notebook cooler $15.95
Cathode light kit $2.99
5v CCFL inverter $15.12
USB cable $1.54
Hot glue $1.00
Decaling $30.00

Total $115.60